If you're just finishing up what was likely a delicious and fulfilling Christmas dinner with your friends and family, connecting with loved ones probably isn't a problem at the moment, but for elderly and single folks who live alone and far away from old friends and relatives, Accenture
is looking to expand their dinner tables
as far as the webcam can see. The "virtual meal technology" seeks to aggrandize the dining room beyond a single home, allowing folks to enjoy separate meals while conversing together in real-time. Utilizing the basic premise found in videoconferencing
, the plans are to unveil an (almost) automatic system that doesn't require a great deal of know-how in order to operate, with prototypes "automatically detecting" when someone is about to eat supper, and then searching for available family members that would also be interested in scarfing down some grub while chatting it up over the system. The firm is also pushing the medical aspects of such an invention, as it reports that "elderly people who eat alone often don't eat enough or eat the wrong kinds of food," which would allow younger family members to correct those eating habits before more serious health issues develop from malnutrition. While the company hasn't released any draft equipment just yet, it's hoping to have a prototype system available "in around two years," and while it's aiming for the "$500 to $1,000 range" per household, things could get a lot cheaper if your insurance company ends up footing the bill.